2018 Early Voting Statistics Show Young People Aren't Sitting Out These Pivotal States' Elections

ByCaroline Burke
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Next week, the midterms will take place— but millions of registered voters have already cast their decisions. 2018 early voting statistics are reflecting one particularly striking trend, according to a poll by CNN and Catalist: a "surge" of young people are showing up to vote this year, in much higher numbers than they did in 2014. Specifically, a much greater percentage of young voters are turning out in two highly contested states, Georgia and Texas.

In Texas, the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic contender Beto O'Rourke has been one of the most highly publicized races in the country. Cruz and O'Rourke are currently polling within a few points of one another. And according to the CNN poll, the percentage of voters under 30 (compared to the overall percentage of voters) who have voted early in Texas has jumped from 4.4 percent in 2014 to 10.7 percent, this year.

In Georgia, the gubernatorial race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democratic contender Stacey Abrams is virtually tied, according to the most recent poll by NBC News/Marist. This election is another extremely hyped-up race, and for good reason: If Abrams wins, she will be the first African-American female governor in U.S. history. And according to the CNN poll, the percentage of voters under 30 participating in early voting in Georgia has jumped from 4 percent in 2014 to 8.9 percent in 2018.

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Of course, these numbers in both states might still seem small. But CNN notes it's normal for early voting to be dominated by senior voters. Rather, the point is that both Georgia and Texas have seen young voters showing up to vote early at rates more than double what they were at the last midterms.

It's always a good thing to see young voters showing an increased interest in participating in their democracy. But those who are hoping for a blue wave in the midterms might feel particularly hopeful when looking at these early voting increases among those under 30.

A poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School revealed that 18- to 29-year-olds are "significantly more likely" to vote in the upcoming midterm elections than they were in 2014. What's more, among that voting age, "Democrats are preferred to control Congress by 34 percentage points, 66 to 32 percent."

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In other words, the young voters in the Harvard poll are reflecting a high percentage of Democratic interests. Lastly, the Harvard poll revealed that 40 percent of those 18- to 29-year-olds are definitely intending to vote in this election. The Harvard researchers further noted that the last time young voter turnout exceeded 20 percent was in 1994, according to U.S. Census Data.

If the young voter trend continues through to the day of elections on Nov. 6, it could have monumental implications for the partisan balance in the House. The House is currently dominated by Republicans, 240 to 195. But as of Nov. 1, FiveThirtyEight predicts there to be an 85 percent likelihood of Democrats winning control, with the most likely outcome being a gain of 38 seats for the Democrats.

If that happens, it could be due, in large part, to young voters.